Posts Tagged ‘Varanasi’

The Beatles couldn’t be wrong. I haven’t seen so many tourists anywhere but in Rishikesh. And everything here is for them: from (pseudo) German bakeries and Italian restaurants to laughing yoga classes, dancing meditation, people reading aura and opening chakras. Book stores go further with books on power of Om, enlightment, and tantric sex.

I wanted to go a bit with a flow, and be more of a tourist. So I went fancy and rented out a hotel, was eating out in restaurants and drinking galoons of black coffee and freshly squeezed juice. Those things are more than affordable here in India, but still I’m usually keeping away from them. There ain’t much joy in there, those are merely guilty pleasures that one doesn’t derive much satisfaction from. On that occasion, though, that was what I needed. And at times, you need to get what you need to get.

Sure thing, I attended a yoga class. That was pretty different from the ones in Europe, more authentic, I dare say. We started off with chanting “Om” and our teacher singing a prayer in Sanskrit, something about healthy mind in a healthy body. Then a two-hour lesson followed, with really good explanations and analysis, besides practice. And we finished with a supposed-to-be deep relaxation, which was not really deep because of the flies tickling the legs. And the prayer.

Next stop – the holiest of all cities, Varanasi. Praised by Mark Twain. Its ghats, stairs leading to the waters of Ganga, represent life, and death, and everything in-between. They are full of people already before sunrise. Tourists are getting on boat rides, pilgrims bathing in the holy river, cows doing the same, locals washing and drying their clothes, people doing yoga, selling, begging, soliciting, walking, taking pictures, or contemplating over a cup of chai or a bottle of coke.

Burning ghats is another rather striking experience. At first, I was wondering why they wouldn’t call them cremation ghats, but then I understood that burning is what it is. No ceremonies, no rituals, no hassle, just corpses in colorful clothes being thrown on fire. Makes one think. And be happy they are still alive.

Bonus fact. One of the most ridiculous professions I’ve ever seen is an ear cleaner. They have a case of various instruments, most of them looking rather scary, with a big note on it: “Ear cleaner”. They can also provide you with pictures and references of happy clients. I pushed away the one reaching to my ears with a long sharp metal thing: “I’ll just look, it’s free”. I rather have my ears as they are.

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